Click to enlarge
SR.A/1 TG263

The Saunders-Roe SR.A/1 originated during 1943 when Saro proposed the SR.44, a fighter which could be used in the vast ocean expanses of the Pacific Theater. It was similar in concept to the Nakajima A6M2-N "Rufe" (floatplane conversion of the infamous "Zero" fighter) and the Kawanishi N1K1 "Rex" floatplane fighters used with mixed success by the Imperial Japanese Navy. In May of 1944, a contract for three prototypes to Specification E.6/44 was awarded to Saro, and the SR.44 was subsequently re-designated SR.A/1.

Click to enlarge
SR.A/1 TG263
Click to enlarge
SR.A/1 TG263
(Based on a drawing from Flightglobal/Archive 1948)

The first prototype, TG263, was powered by two 3,230 lb s.t. Metropolitan-Vickers F2/4 Beryl MVB.1 turbojets, air being provided to both engines by a nose inlet. This layout helped prevent water being ingested into the engines, this being aided further by a scoop which could be utilized during water operations. The exhausts were angled five degrees outward from the fuselage so that the efflux cleared the aircraft's empennage. The combination of boat-hull type fuselage and jet propulsion was generally more efficient than the floatplane and prop layout of the aforementioned Japanese fighters. Two further prototypes were built, serials TG267 and TG271. The second prototype was fitted with 3,500 lb s.t. Beryls and the third with Beryls rated at their full 3,850 pounds of static thrust. Crew consisted of one pilot seated on an ejection seat in a pressurized cockpit. The canopy was initially a clear hood, but was later replaced with a "solid," reinforced canopy after the clear hood was lost in flight. The proposed armament consisted of four 20 mm Hispano Mk 5 cannon, each with 190 rounds, in the upper nose, and two 1,000 lb bombs or sixteen 120 lb unguided rockets; this was not installed, however.

Click to enlarge
TG263 on beaching gear.
Via Eric Bond
Click to enlarge
TG263; note clear canopy hood.
Via Eric Bond

The first prototype, TG263, took to the air for the first time on 15 July 1947, with the second and third prototypes following shortly thereafter. The aircraft were flown and tested for several years. Performance and handling were generally adequate for an aircraft of the SR.A/1's size and layout, but by this time the Second World War had ended and the requirement for a flying-boat fighter had basically disappeared. Land- or carrier-based fighters offered better performance and met the current requirements. The aircraft was briefly reconsidered during the Korean War, but the last SR.A/1 still flying (the first prototype) was finally retired in June 1951, the second and third prototypes having been lost in crashes. Fortunately, TG263 was preserved at various museums, and currently resides at the Southampton Hall of Aviation.

Click to enlarge
TG263 at Imperial War Museum, Duxford, 1991.
Photo courtesy of and © Vic Flintham

The Saunders-Roe SR.A/1 was uncommon because, not only was it a flying-boat fighter, it was both the first jet-powered flying-boat and the first jet-powered flying-boat fighter. It was also rather large for a fighter aircraft, yet still had an attractiveness to its lines. Unfortunately for Saro, it was basically a dead-end in fighter development, although the United States Navy evinced some interest in the concept as the Convair F2Y / F-7 Sea Dart, which met the same fate as the SR.A/1's development. It is interesting to imagine the service of the SR.A/1 had World War II not ended when it did.

Click to enlarge
Top of fuselage of TG263, with open engine bay access hatch. Photo courtesy of and © Damien Burke
Click to enlarge
Inside the engine bay of TG263; the open access hatch in the previous picture is at the top of the ladder. Note that one engine has been removed; it was used to power Donald Campbell's "Bluebird" high-speed boat. Photo courtesy of and © Damien Burke

Click to enlarge
Cockpit of TG263.
Photo courtesy of and © Damien Burke
Click to enlarge
1949 Saro advertisement.
Via Jack Hunter
Click to enlarge
1949 Saro advertisement (colorized).
Flight and Aircraft Engineer, 3 February 1949


Specifications SR.A/1
Designer(s) Sir Arthur Gouge, Henry Knowler
Mission Type Seaplane fighter prototype
Powerplant TG263: 2 x 3,230 lb (1,465 kg) s.t. Metropolitan-Vickers F2/4 Beryl MVB.1 turbojets;
TG267: 2 x 3,500 lb (1,588 kg) s.t. Metropolitan-Vickers F2/4 Beryl MVB.1 turbojets;
TG271: 2 x 3,850 lb (1,746 kg) s.t. Metropolitan-Vickers F2/4 Beryl MVB.1 turbojets
Span 46 ft (14.02 m)
Length 50 ft (15.24 m)
Height 16 ft 9 in (5.11 m)
Wing area 415.0 sq ft (38.55 m2)
Empty 11,262 lb (5,108 kg)
Loaded 16,225 lb (7,360 kg)
Take-off 16,255 lb (7,373 kg)
Max 19,033 lb (8,633 kg)
Max speed 512 mph @ hi altitude (824 km/hr)
Cruise speed ?
Initial climb rate 5,800 ft/min (29.5 m/s)
Service ceiling ?
Range ?
Endurance 2.4 hr
Armament (not installed) 4 x 20 mm Hispano cannon with 190 rpg in nose
2 x 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs or 16 x 120 lb (54 kg) rockets under wings
Crew One
User UK (Ministery of Supply; intended for RAF service)
Number built Three (five ordered)
Construction Numbers ?
Serial Numbers TG263, TG267, TG271
Unofficial Nickname 'Squirt'
Test Pilots Saro: Geoffrey Tyson, J. O. Lancaster, John Booth
Royal Navy: Lieutenant Commander Eric Brown
MAEE: Squadron Leader Pete Major, Flight Lieutenant McCall

Click to enlarge
Saunders-Roe SR.A/1, initial canopy configuration, floats retracted
(Based on a drawing from Flightglobal/Archive 1948)
Click to enlarge
Saunders-Roe SR.A/1, initial canopy configuration, floats extended
Click to enlarge
Saunders-Roe SR.A/1, revised canopy

Click to enlarge
Saunders-Roe SR.A/1 float details
(Based on a drawing from Flightglobal/Archive 1948)

Click to enlarge
Saunders-Roe SR.A/1 TG263
Click to enlarge
Saunders-Roe SR.A/1 TG271
Click to enlarge
Saunders-Roe SR.A/1 G-12-1
Click to enlarge
Saunders-Roe SR.A/1 as it might have looked in Royal Navy markings

Cleaned-up Flight photos
Click to enlarge
"S.R/A1: In his most imaginative moment the author of 'Alice in Wonderland' could hardly have foreseen a craft which is thrust by the reaction of hot gases into the air from a sea which at times literally boils around it. Such a craft is the new Saunders-Roe flying-boat fighter which, as our picture proves, however, is by no means a flying pig."
(Flightglobal/Archive 1947)
Click to enlarge
"...the Saro SR/A1 rides serenely on the tranquil waters of the Medina."
(Flightglobal/Archive 1948)
Click to enlarge
"ELEGANT LINES: This photograph of the Saro SR-A1 fighter-boat shows clearly the neat installation of the Metrovick jet units. From the head-on aspect scarcely any bulge is noticable."
(Flightglobal/Archive 1947)
Click to enlarge
"Though lacking beauty in the classical sense, the S.R./A1 displays many attractive design features."
(Flightglobal/Archive 1947)

Web Links


  1. Boyne, Walter J. "Aerial Oddities." Aviation Heritage, September 1990.
  2. Casey, Louis S. and John Batchelor. The Illustrated History of Seaplanes and Flying Boats. Exeter Books, New York, 1980. ISBN 0-89673-041-7
  3. Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. The Complete Book of Fighters: An illustrated encyclopedia of every fighter aircraft built and flown. Salamander Books, London, 1994. ISBN 0-86101-643-2
  4. Munson, Kenneth. Flying Boats and Seaplanes since 1910. Macmillan, New York, 1971. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 73-142284.
  5. Saunders-Roe SR.A/1. Warplanes Cards, Edito-Service SA, Geneva, 1988.
  6. Winchester, Jim. The World's Worst Aircraft: From Pioneering Failures to Multimillion Dollar Mistakes. Barnes & Noble, New York, 2005. ISBN-13: 978-0-7607-6742-9. ISBN-10: 0-7607-6742-4.
  7. Flightgobal/Archive
  8. Updated information and other References:

Home About Contact Top

[ Home | About | Contact | Top ]

© 1997-2011, Robert Beechy
Originally posted February 1998
Modified: 01/01/2011